Panthers Stand Between Bruins and Third Straight Win

Panthers Stand Between Bruins and Third Straight Win The holiday vacation is over, and the Bruins are headed back to work.

Members of the Black and Gold headed home to their families on a good note, rattling back-to-back wins early in the week, but now the B's hit the road after a three-day layoff. In search of their third consecutive win, they now take on the Florida Panthers, a middle-of-the-road Southeast squad, in a rematch of their dramatic 1-0 shutout loss from back on Nov. 12.

When And Where

Sunday, Dec. 27, 5 p.m. (NESN)
BankAtlantic Center, Sunrise, Fla.

Records

Bruins (18-11-7, 43 points, second place in Northeast Division, fifth place in Eastern Conference)
Panthers (16-16-7, 39 points, third place in Southeast Division, 10th place in Eastern Conference)

Head to Head

This is the Bruins' second meeting with the Panthers this season. The first was a duel of two elite goalies, Tim Thomas and Tomas Vokoun — Thomas had 40 saves to Vokoun's 23, and the Florida netminder held strong in overtime and in a dramatic shootout, where the Panthers finally prevailed when Cory Stillman scored in the fourth round. Defense reigns supreme when these two squads meet up.

Skinny

The Panthers boast one of the deepest, most explosive offenses in the NHL, and they've been on fire over the past couple of weeks. The popped four goals against Atlanta a week ago Wednesday, six against Carolina and four against Philadelphia — they're scoring up a storm, and it'll be up to Thomas and the Bruins' D to slow them down. It didn't work last time, but this is the B's chance at redemption.

Projected Lineups

Bruins
Forwards

Marco Sturm–Marc Savard–Michael Ryder
Daniel Paille-Patrice Bergeron-Mark Recchi
Blake Wheeler–David Krejci–Byron Bitz
Steve Begin–Vladimir Sobotka–Shawn Thornton

Defensemen
Zdeno Chara–Johnny Boychuk
Dennis Wideman–Andrew Ference
Matt Hunwick–Adam McQuaid

Goaltenders
Tim Thomas
Tuukka Rask

Panthers
Forwards
Rostislav Olesz–Stephen Weiss–Michael Frolik
Cory Stillman–Steven Reinprecht–Nathan Horton
Gregory Campbell–Michal Repik–Victor Oreskovich
Kenndal McArdle–Jeff Taffe–Ville Koistinen

Defensemen
Bryan McCabe–Keith Ballard
Jordan Leopold–Dennis Seidenberg
Bryan Allen–Dmitry Kulikov

Goaltenders
Tomas Vokoun
Scott Clemmensen

Goaltender Matchup

Tim Thomas is 9-8-5 with a 2.50 GAA and .915 save percentage with four shutouts.

Tuukka Rask is 9-3-2 with a 1.97 GAA and .933 save percentage. Rask has one shutout.

Senators
Tomas Vokoun is 11-11-7 with a 2.62 GAA and .922 save percentage with three shutouts.

Scott Clemmensen
is 5-4-0 with a 3.69 GAA and .884 save percentage.

Stat Sheet

Bruins
The Bruins are 7-5-4 on the road.

They have allowed 16 power-play goals, fewest in the NHL.

Marc Savard is fourth in the NHL with a 20.9 shooting percentage.

Tuukka Rask is fifth in the league with a .714 points percentage.

Tim Thomas' four shutouts are second-most in the league.

Marco Sturm and Patrice Bergeron are tied for the Bruins' team lead with 10 goals scored.

Zdeno Chara has 20 assists.

Panthers
The Panthers are 6-3-4 this season against Atlantic Division opponents.

They have scored 112 goals, seventh-most in the NHL.

Radek Dvorak has two short-handed goals.

Stephen Weiss is fifth in the league with a 20.7 shooting percentage and leads the team with 18 goals.

Tomas Vokoun has made 916 saves, third-most in the NHL.

Nathan Horton and Stephen Weiss are the Panthers' leading scorers with 37 points.

Bryan Allen has 53 penalty minutes.

Black and Blue

Bruins
Derek Morris
, who has missed three games with an undisclosed injury, practiced Saturday for the first time since last week.

Milan Lucic is nearing his return from a high left ankle sprain.

Mark Stuart is out 4-6 weeks with a broken sternum.

Panthers
Nick Tarnasky
, who suffered a broken orbital bone fighting in a preseason game Sept. 15, is now ready to make his season debut.

Kamil Kreps, who has missed the last four games with shoulder and ribcage soreness, is also poised to return.

Rostislav Olesz is doubtful with the flu.

This Date in Bruins History

In 1932, Bruins goalie Tiny Thompson made 32 saves and registered the 32nd shutout of his career. The Bruins defeated the Montreal Canadiens, 1-0.

Overheard

"I don’t get a sense that’s an issue. Right now we’re not even talking about it — we’re just going about our business. As it gets closer, that may be a bigger challenge. But we’ve got three games before we even get there. I don’t think it’s really been on the players' minds to be a distraction."
–Claude Julien, in Sunday's Boston Herald, on the team's effort to stay focused on the task at hand and not their upcoming Fenway Park game.

Press Box

Bruins
The Bruins are focused on Florida.

Andrew Ference has been a defensive mainstay.

Shawn Thornton
is loving life on the fourth line.

Panthers
The Panthers got a break for Christmas.

Nick Tarnasky is ready to take the ice.

The competition begins before the games.

NHL
The Coyotes have won nine straight at home.

Alexander Ovechkin is an Olympian.

Mike Modano tries to keep up.

Outlook

The Bruins got the puck rolling earlier this week, starting off a little winning streak heading into the Christmas recess. After back-to-back victories before the holiday, the B's will now look to keep things moving — but they'll have to figure out Tomas Vokoun first. They weren't able to do it last time out, but now they get another crack at it as this is a different Bruins team than the one that was blanked by the Panthers last month, and now's their chance to prove it.

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